An Historical Perspective: I’m Pro-Life Because…
Following is a reprint that deserves a wide audience. Robert Morrison is a senior fellow at Family Research Council. This column first appeared on www.frcblog.com.
by Robert Morrison
January 20, 2011
I’m pro-life because Thomas Jefferson was. What’s that, you say? Jefferson never spoke about abortion. Of course not. Surgical abortion was so dangerous prior until about 1800 that it killed the mother as well as the unborn child. But Jefferson was assuredly pro-life.
“The care of human life and happiness is the first and only legitimate object of good government,” he wrote when he was president. They had a balanced budget then, because the president had his priorities straight.
In 1774, young Jefferson had written “the god who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.” That was his ringing phrase in the Summary View of the Rights of British America. God gives us life; God gives us liberty. Pretty clear. Later, of course, Jefferson would give us his best lines: “…all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Under the misrule of Roe v. Wade, 52 million Americans have been denied their inalienable right to life. It is, as it has been from the beginning, wholly illegitimate. Jefferson thought there should be more Americans, not fewer. When he purchased the Louisiana Territory, he said there would be room enough on those fruited plains for Americans to the hundredth generation.
I’m pro-life because Benjamin Franklin was. Well, if you were the tenth son of your father, you’d probably be pro-life, too. Franklin, we know, was not always chaste. He had a child out of wedlock. And he immediately brought him into the family circle, where he raised his son as his own. When that son also had a son out of wedlock, Benjamin loved and cherished this grandson and kept him close to his heart. I don’t recommend this as a way of enlarging a family, but it is surely a pro-life sentiment to love and guide your flesh and blood. Franklin, too, welcomed more Americans. In 1762, before we were even a nation, he calculated what our population might be one hundred twenty years thence.
He predicted that America would be home to 162 million people in 1882. The U.S. Census of 1880 showed Old Ben to have been off by less than one percent! When Dr. Franklin served in Paris, he rode out in his carriage to see the first manned ascent in a hot-air balloon. Fashionable French women fainted to see the balloon rise high above Versailles. (Well, maybe it was those tight corsets or those heavy hairpieces.) Four hundred thousand Frenchmen had come out to see the great event. Someone in the crowd was skeptical, however. They asked Dr. Franklin of what practical use the manned balloon was. With a twinkle in his eye, the most practical man in the world replied: “Of what practical use is a newborn baby?” Now, that’s pro-life!
I’m pro-life because George Washington was. He spoke often of his hopes for America, for millions yet unborn. He noted, in words that were not included in his First Inaugural, but which revealed his heart, that he and Martha had not been blessed with children.
One of Washington’s successors seems to think of children–at least those born out of wedlock as Franklin’s son and grandson were–as “punishments.” Washington knew that children are a blessing from the Lord, and said so. Washington looked West, as Jefferson did, so that America could have room to expand, room to become “the haven for the oppressed of many lands.” No one comes to America to do away with their unborn children.
In signing the Constitution, Washington joined with the childless James Madison in seeking “the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” Now, just who might these men have been thinking about if they did not have children of their own? Us. They thought of us as their posterity. Pro-lifers care about our posterity. We welcome every child in life and work to see them protected in law.
I’m pro-life because Lincoln was. He rejoiced that America’s population was growing–even in the dreadful days of civil war and slaughter–Lincoln welcomed the swelling chorus of the Union. He had put the slavery issue in this context: “Nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon.” FRC welcomed President Obama to Washington with those words and this most civil and respectful question: Are not unborn children so stamped?
I’m pro-life because Ronald Reagan, my great chief, was pro-life. In fact, Reagan was the first president to use the term pro-life. He wasn’t just anti-abortion, as the liberal media constantly said. He understood that being pro-life inspired us to oppose abortion and euthanasia–as well as standing up to an evil empire that killed to keep itself in power.
It was Reagan who said “abortion is a great wound in the soul of America.”
And, yes, I’m pro-life because, more than any of these, Jesus is pro-life: “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” His Word tells us “therefore choose life.”
Do we need a better reason?
Thank you (foot)notes,